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Modeling Classroom Behavior With Student Video

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One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through my teaching is the importance of modeling for students before I expect them to do a particular assignment — writing, reading strategies, etc. It seems to make a huge difference. It seems, though, that since I’ve gotten a document camera, being able to either have students come-up and show their work examples — or me just grabbing them and showing them on the camera — may even have a greater impact.

I obviously also try to intentionally model appropriate behavior as well and, though I think it’s important — especially for many of my students who may not have any or few male adults in their lives — I’m not convinced that modeling is quite as effective in resulting in similar student behavior. It’s probably safe to say that peer behavior functions as a more effective model.

I started thinking more about these topics after reading Observe a Good Deed, Perform a Good Deed, a report on a study showing that students seeing videos of people performing acts of kindness were more likely to do altruistic acts themselves. Of course, this idea of seeing/replicating isn’t that new, and I’ve written about a similar study on a different topic in Self-Control Can Be Contagious.

But all this got my brain percolating. Since it appears that people might replicate behavior they see on a video, and that my students seem to take to heart cues that they get from their peers, I wondered if I should try an experiment: Why not identify specific areas of classroom behavior — for example, working in a small group and eliciting participating from everybody, and show students a video of their peers modeling that behavior? Then, telling them that one of their future projects will be to make a short video modeling appropriate classroom/learning behavior on a topic of their choosing.

I could see starting off early in the year having my IB Theory of Knowledge making a video and then showing it to my mainstream ninth-grade English class as a model.

I’m thinking it might have a positive effect. Or, at the very least, it couldn’t hurt :)

I know of a bunch of videos online designed to train teachers how to teach, but I don’t know of ones that are designed by students to help them become better learners. Maybe they’re out there. Does anyone know of examples? Have you tried doing something like this?

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: After reading Larry Ferlazzo and thinking about the Buddha « On Learning

  2. That’s a great idea, Larry!
    We have PBS (Positive Behavior Support) in my school. We’re starting our second year with it when we go back in August. I think it would be great to have students videotape themselves demonstrating our P.R.I.D.E. Thanks for the idea!

  3. I’ve done something like this, but more spontaneously. I saw a student who was very “behaviorally challenged” finishing up classwork in the back of lab (a very UN-desirable activity), and video-ed him with my camera phone. I then showed it to him at the end of the period, and poineted out the specific behaviors that were on-task and praised him for doing it un-prompted.

    I think doing it in a more structured way like you’re planning would be a good idea too.

  4. I love this idea Larry. I especially think that giving a disruptive kid a job, such as making a video recording, is a great way to channel some of that negative energy into something positive.

    @Alice, I am surprised at your use of the cell phone cam in the classroom, and I think it is a great reversal of the stuff I found in my YouTube in the Classroom project. Usually it’s the kids secretly recording the teacher. I guess this technology cuts both ways.

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